Guide to Literary Terms

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What are the definitions of Connotation, Denotation, Imagery, Hyperbole, Imperative, Paradox, Parable, and Juxtaposition?

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Connotation refers to the implied meanings that words/statements have.  Much of modern slang relies on connotation for its meaning, because the literal meanings do not make sense. For example, "home" usually implies more than a place of residence.  Its connotation could be "a place of warmth, security, or safety."  The connotation goes beyond the literal meaning.

Denotation, on the other hand, refers to the actual literal definition for a given term.  It is stripped of any additional cultural (or idiomatic) meaning.  The denotation of "home" would be a place of residence.  Anything else that is implied by the term would not be included in its denotation.

Imagery refers to the figurative description or illustration in rhetoric.  Essentially, it is a rhetorical description that creates an image in the reader's mind.  Imagery often surfaces more than once within a given literary work.

Hyperbole refers to an intentional exaggeration or overstatement.  Hyperboles are not meant to be taken literally; instead, they serve to create added emphasis.  For example, "to wait an eternity" rather than "to wait a long time."

Imperative refers to an obligatory statement, often used to emphasize a point.  It is generally stated very directly, most often in the form of a command.

Paradox is a term that refers to a statement, person, or situation that is self-contradictory,false, or runs counter to popularly-held assumptions.

A Parable is a story designed to illustrate or teach a lesson of some kind, whether it is moral or religious.

Juxtaposition refers to the placing of two ideas, people, or things next to each other as a means of comparison.

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